Super 15 semis set to be tense

    2015-06-27 04:00

    Wellington -The first semi-finals of the 2015 Super 15 series will be played in New Zealand on Saturday.

    The Hurricanes and Australia's Brumbies are scheduled to start at 09:35 (SA time).

    The Hurricanes have not stumbled upon a magic formula this season and their success is built on hard work put in over the last few years by a maturing playing group, according to their coach and captain.

    It is the first semi-final the Wellington-based side have hosted since 2006, creating an expected sell out, and their first appearance in the playoffs since 2009.

    "I don't think there's a silver bullet and there's not one answer," coach Chris Boyd told reporters of their success.

    "There are a whole lot of bits and pieces that has got the chemistry right."

    Other changes

    The Brumbies meanwhile named Lausii Taliauli as a replacement for suspended Henry Speight.

    Brumbies' coach Stephen Larkham said Taliauli, 22, was a "good, young player" and "we think he's the right man for the job".

    The team did not announce any other changes to the side that scored six tries against the Stormers in their 39-19 win in Cape Town on Saturday.

    Scoring prowess

    The other semi-final match between the Waraths and the Highlanders will be played in Sydney at 11:55 (SA) time.

    Tries aplenty can be expected when the Waratahs duke it out with the similarly attack-minded Highlanders.

    The Waratahs rode to their maiden title on the back of the most potent attack in the competition last year and will back their scoring prowess in Saturday's semi-final, even if they have not hit quite the same heights this season.

    The Highlanders could not hope to be heading to the Sydney Football Stadium in better shape after beating fellow New Zealand side the Chiefs last weekend to win their first playoff match since 1999.

    That match highlighted the dual threat posed by the Highlanders with their uncompromising forward pack subduing the twice-champion Chiefs before the Aaron Smith-inspired backline finished them off.

    All Blacks scrumhalf Smith is in the best form of his career and with wing Waisake Naholo, centre Malakai Fekitoa and fullback Ben Smith among those lining up behind him, the Highlanders have a backline that could trouble any defence.

    The Waratahs will aim to nullify Smith's threat by cutting off his supply of ball and, failing that, by slowing down the rate at which the Highlanders recycle.

    The physicality of the Waratahs pack and their ability to dominate, or at least compete, at the breakdown has been the touchstone of their season so far.

    Lot of promise

    Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has named an almost identical starting XV to the side that beat the Chiefs in their qualifier clash in Dunedin last Saturday.

    The only change sees openside flank James Lentjes replace the injured Dan Pryor. Lentjes was called in for injuries earlier in the season and has showed a lot of promise in his four games to date.

    The team will again be captained by the experienced duo of Ben Smith (who will be playing in his 104th game) and Nasi Manu (80 games).

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